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Winter Heating and Electrical Safety Checklist

Each year, electrical fires increase during the winter months due to an increase in the use of electrical products. This raises the chances of electrical fires, electrocutions, and other injuries.

Additionally, home fires in general increase during the colder months, with heating equipment being the second leading cause.

For more information on winter safety, see this infographic, provided by Electrical Safety Foundation International:


For more winter safety information:

Space Heater Safety – More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to space heaters. Learn how to use one safely.

Heating Pads and Electric Blankets Safety – Heating pads and electric blankets cause almost 500 fires each year.

Carbon Monoxide Safety – The winter months hold the highest risk for CO poisoning deaths. Every year over 200 people die from CO poisoning. Learn how to stay safe.

Winter Electrical Safety Checklist

Surprisingly, over 3,000 electrical fires are attributable to extension cords alone. Many other electrical fires and injuries occur with counterfeit electrical products, large appliances, and natural disasters. Gain some peace of mind by following our winter electrical safety checklist:

  • Avoid counterfeit electrical products by looking for products that have been tested by an independent testing facility, such as CSA, UL, or ETL.
  • Outdoor lights and extension cords should be certified for outdoor use and tested by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Inspect your holiday decorations for cracked, frayed, or loose wires and replace any damaged products.
  • Never overload your extension cords or surge protectors.
  • Extension cords are temporary. Do not use hem as permanent solutions.
  • Install TRRs (tamper resistant receptacles) in your home if you have little kids at home.
  • Unplug decorations, hair dryers, straighteners, and other electrical devices when not in use.
  • Stay clear of power lines, especially when decorating and trimming trees.
  • Don’t use any electrical device that looks cracked, pinched, or has exposed wiring. If your plug heats up when in use, it’s time for a replacement.
  • Never use lights on a metallic tree. It could charge the tree and electrocute anyone touching the tree.
  • Make sure all outdoor outlets are GFCI-protected. Your outdoor outlets should be clearly labeled GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter).
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to anything electrical.
  • Avoid all no-name electronics. Usually the cheapest option is not the safest option.
  • Never yank a cord from the receptacle; always pull from the base of the plug.

Electrical Safety Don’ts

  • DON’T plug too many cords into an outlet. Even using adapters
  • DON’T yank the cord from an outlet — it can damage your electronic stuff or the outlet or both.
  • DON’T touch outlets or switches if the cover is missing or broken.
  • DON’T plug anything into an outlet if there’s water on the floor or counter near it.
  • DON’T use hair dryers, radios, or any other electrical stuff in or near water – like the sink, tub or shower.
  • DON’T play near any power lines or electrical equipment like the green boxes you see in lawns or fields.
  • DON’T get on any roof to play or to get a ball or toy if it lands up there. Powerlines usually attach to a house near the roof. If you touch one, it could kill you.
  • DON’T fly kites near powerlines, ever.
  • DON’T climb trees near powerlines – tree branches can hide them. Remember, electricity can go right through the tree branch – and right through you!
  • DON’T climb hydro poles or the fences around electrical stations – even if your ball goes in there. Get a parent to call the hydro company – they can help get it out.

More than 3,000 electrical fires are caused by extension cords each year, resulting in 50 deaths and 270 injuries. Large appliances cause nearly 20 percent of consumer-product electrocutions annually. U.S. Customs confiscates more than $3 million in consumer electrical products each year, and explains that products with counterfeit certification marks, including CSA, UL and ETL, have not been tested for shock and fire hazardsStatistics show that home fires increase during the months of December and January- mainly because of the increased use of heating equipment and holiday lighting. A lot of the heating equipment and holiday lighting is powered by extension cords.

Extension cords can be very convenient for many people, but they also pose a potential fire hazard if overloaded. Along with the increase in overloaded extension cords this time of the year, there is also a rise in the number of counterfeit electrical products sold. This is a dangerous combination for your home.

For more information about electrical service and repair or electrical home safety, visit us online or drop us a message on our Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages.

Universal Home Experts is your trusted source for all of your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC needs.

We service the entire Houston area. Don’t forget to schedule your annual heating maintenance tune-up. It will extend the life of your HVAC system, increase energy efficiency, and ensure your warranties remain valid.

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